The first time she tells him to hold her, they are standing on the bridges that span between the trees of the forest moon of Endor, and she looks so confused and hurt and beautiful that it almost breaks his heart as he enfolds her in his arms and presses her against his chest, and it is then that he swears to himself to protect her with all that he is from that moment onward.
He doesn’t understand what is going on between her and Luke, but as she chokes back a sob and he instinctively tightens his grip on her, the issue abruptly leaves his mind.
It is in that instant that he realizes he loves her completely.
The second time she tells him, they are waiting anxiously outside the medical room where Luke is currently fighting for his life after a horrible run-in with Imperial soldiers who still clung to the old ways and sought to kill off any possible hope. She is standing stiff with her back to the entrance when he steps in, but when she hears his soft tread, she spins almost blisteringly fast and is in his arms, crying quietly and mumbling nonsense as he rubs her back and cradles her close to his body.
He doesn’t comprehend most of what she’s saying, but as she melts into him, he quickly decides that it doesn’t matter and that he’s accomplishing exactly what she needs.
He knows then that he is the only person who can truly comfort her.
The third time she tells him, he has just arrived back from an extensive trip to the star system of Bespin. He is tired, irritated, and sore, but when he sees the way her features light up like the twin suns of Tatooine when he steps off the Falcon, he breaks into a run and meets her halfway down the landing strip, sweeping her off her feet and twirling in a circle as they both laugh crazily and drink each other in and try to relate the missed weeks at the same time.
He sets her back down and attempts to catch his breath between laughs, but then she stands on tiptoes and kisses him full on the mouth, and suddenly his breath won’t come back.
He decides it’s high time they were married, and drops to one knee.
The fourth time she doesn’t tell him, but rather asks in a small, timid voice that immediately captures his attention as he slides out from beneath the repair work on the Falcon and lets his eyes rest on her trembling shoulders. He gets to his feet and spreads his arms, and she comes quietly to rest against him, breathing deeply in and out as she tries to find the words to explain to him what has happened, and he rests his chin on her head and waits, because he knows she’ll get there soon.
He listens intently as she speaks, brushing her tears away with his thumbs when they drip down her cheeks, and reassures her of his undying love for her.
He recognizes then that he is her safe house in the face of the storm.
The fifth time she tells him, they are laying under the stars on the faraway planet of Almas and contemplating their existence in the world, and she is resting her head on his chest with their hands intertwined above her head. He doesn’t hesitate and pulls her around so that their bodies are touching on every plane, and sighs contentedly as he squeezes her tightly and her hands stray up to his temples and weave through his hair.
He answers her smile with a grin of his own before he lets his eyes slip shut to enjoy the feelings and burn the moment forever into his memory.
If this isn’t perfect, then he doesn’t know what is.
The first time he tells her to hold him, she is meeting him after he returns from a reconnaissance mission in the control base of Coruscant, and he is shaking and swearing and looks so broken and lost, and she doesn’t waste a second as she gathers him into her arms and presses his face into her shoulder where the other men won’t see him losing control and letting his emotions rage across his face. She releases him as the shivering fades away, but the glance they share before he returns to the others holds a promise.
She keeps her arms wrapped around him later that night when they both still lie awake in bed and he tells her of the pain, and she cries with him and comforts him.
For him, she will go to the ends of the universe and beyond.